John Burroughs Papers

Biographical / Historical Note

John Burroughs was born on April 3, 1837 on his family's farm in Roxbury, New York. As a child he spent much of his time reading, writing, and working on the farm. He attended the Hedding Literary Institute and the Cooperstown Seminary before leaving...

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John Burroughs was born on April 3, 1837 on his family's farm in Roxbury, New York. As a child he spent much of his time reading, writing, and working on the farm. He attended the Hedding Literary Institute and the Cooperstown Seminary before leaving home to become a teacher. Burroughs began keeping journals in 1854 when he was seventeen. His first published essay was "Fragments from the Table of an Intellectual Epicure" in 1860 and his first significant published piece was "Expression" in the Atlantic Monthly that same year.

Burroughs married Ursula North in 1857. Soon after, the couple moved to Washington, D.C. where Burroughs worked for the U.S. Treasury. In 1871 he took a position as a bank examiner in New York and built his home Riverby on a vineyard in West Park. In 1881 he constructed his Bark Study just off the main house, a retreat where he added to his growing body of essays and other work. By 1885 he gave up his bank position to write and enjoy his environment. Later, Burroughs would divide his time between Slabsides, his summer retreat at West Park and Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury. Burroughs essays ranged from studies of birds and nature to religion and literature and his work was enjoyed by scholars and laypeople alike. Publishing widely, Burroughs became well known and received numerous awards and honorary degrees. He and his wife had one adopted son, Julius.

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Scope and Content Note

The papers are comprised of four series. The Education Related Material series, 1854- 1901 (0.2 cubic ft.) contains a teaching certificate, two school catalogs, a letter of recommendation, and a set of thank you letters. The letters were sent from...

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The papers are comprised of four series. The Education Related Material series, 1854- 1901 (0.2 cubic ft.) contains a teaching certificate, two school catalogs, a letter of recommendation, and a set of thank you letters. The letters were sent from a class of children for whom Burroughs had led a nature walk. The Writings series, 1856-1907 and undated (0.2 cubic ft.) holds several handwritten manuscripts, a poem, an account book, and three periodicals that have articles written by Burroughs. There is also a unique wildflower album with a bark cover created by Burroughs in 1898. Burroughs creativity is also documented in two volumes of artwork, design layout, proofs and type repros for the limited edition book, In Nature's Laboratory, which records the camping trip in 1916 of Burroughs, Edison, and Firestone. The Photographs series, 1882-1915 and undated (2.0 cubic ft.) includes a two volume Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition, 1899; an album of cartes de visite portraits of friends and family; a set of thirty-seven glass plate negatives (images taken by Burroughs son, Julius); and a subseries of snapshots and photographs of Burroughs with friends, family, visitors and his homes and travels. A Miscellaneous series, 1896-1909 (0.2 cubic ft.) is comprised of a handprint of John Burroughs and several pages from a scrapbook. Researchers should note that handwritten notes describing some of the material were made by the donor, Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley, granddaughter of John Burroughs.

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Collection Details

Object ID: 93.205.0
Creator: Burroughs, John, 1837-1921 
Inclusive Dates: 1854-1915
Size: 3.6 cubic ft.
Language: English

Collection Access & Use

Item Location: Benson Ford Research Center

Access Restrictions: The papers are open for research.

Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Digitized Artifacts From This Collection

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Contact us for more information about this collection.

John Burroughs and Granddaughter Elizabeth Burroughs, 1907-1908

  Details

John Burroughs and Granddaughter Elizabeth Burroughs, 1907-1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1907-1908

Summary

John Burroughs, the internationally known naturalist and writer, delighted in his grandchildren. Elizabeth, Ursula and John Burroughs II, were the children of John's only child, Julian. Burroughs visited his grandchildren often and filled his journals with tales of their adventures together. In this photograph, Burroughs poses with his oldest grandchild, Elizabeth.

Creators

Unknown 

Object ID

2007.0.7.73

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs and Granddaughter Elizabeth Burroughs, 1907-1908

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Ursula and John Burroughs with Others, at the Grand Canyon, 1911

  Details

Ursula and John Burroughs with Others, at the Grand Canyon, 1911

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1911

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and writer. Though he loved the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York -- where he grew up and where he had a house and several writing retreats -- Burroughs travelled widely. During his lifetime, Burroughs traveled to England, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and much of the United States. This photo shows him with family and friends at the Grand Canyon.

Object ID

93.205.19

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Ursula and John Burroughs with Others, at the Grand Canyon, 1911

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John Burroughs inside Slabsides, circa 1915

  Details

John Burroughs inside Slabsides, circa 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

circa 1915

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. From his home in the Catskills of upstate New York, Burroughs wrote mostly about accessible and familiar landscapes. After 1895, he did much of his writing at Slabsides, a rustic retreat he built a mile from his home.

Object ID

00.1764.5

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs inside Slabsides, circa 1915

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Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

  Details

Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

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Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1915

Object ID

2010.0.35.7

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

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John Burroughs Sitting at the Fireplace at Woodchuck Lodge, 1918

  Details

John Burroughs Sitting at the Fireplace at Woodchuck Lodge, 1918

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

28 September 1918

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and essayist who wrote about accessible and familiar landscapes. In 1913, with financial assistance from Henry Ford, Burroughs purchased the house built by his brother Curtis on land near Burroughs' birthplace in Roxbury, New York. Woodchuck Lodge, as Burroughs referred to it, became his summer retreat and its natural surroundings became the subject of his creative works.

Object ID

00.1764.7

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs Sitting at the Fireplace at Woodchuck Lodge, 1918

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

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  Details

John Burroughs on the Porch of Woodchuck Lodge, Roxbury, New York, 1918

  Details

John Burroughs on the Porch of Woodchuck Lodge, Roxbury, New York, 1918

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

29 September 1918

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and essayist who wrote about accessible and familiar landscapes. In 1913, with financial assistance from Henry Ford, Burroughs purchased the house built by his brother Curtis on land near Burroughs' birthplace in Roxbury, New York. Woodchuck Lodge, as Burroughs referred to it, became his summer retreat and its natural surroundings became the subject of his creative works.

Object ID

00.1764.9

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs on the Porch of Woodchuck Lodge, Roxbury, New York, 1918

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

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  Details

John Burroughs on His 82nd Birthday, Yama Farms, New York, April 3, 1919

  Details

John Burroughs on His 82nd Birthday, Yama Farms, New York, April 3, 1919

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

03 April 1919

Object ID

2010.0.35.14

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs on His 82nd Birthday, Yama Farms, New York, April 3, 1919

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John Burroughs Sitting in Black Creek Swamp, West Park, New York, 1900

  Details

John Burroughs Sitting in Black Creek Swamp, West Park, New York, 1900

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Negative (Photograph)

Date Made

1900

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. From his home in the Catskills of upstate New York, Burroughs wrote mostly about what could be found in accessible and familiar landscapes. He wanted his readers to appreciate the natural world that surrounded them.

Object ID

93.205.73

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs Sitting in Black Creek Swamp, West Park, New York, 1900

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What is The Henry Ford?

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  Details

John Burroughs Putting up a Bluebird House at Riverby, 1902

  Details

John Burroughs Putting up a Bluebird House at Riverby, 1902

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Negative (Photograph)

Date Made

1902

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and essayist who wrote about accessible and familiar landscapes. In 1873, Burroughs bought a plot of land overlooking the Hudson in the Catskills of upstate New York and named it Riverby. Here, he farmed and cultivated grapes and fruit trees. He also erected a family home and built secluded retreats where he penned some of his most famous works.

Object ID

93.205.79

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

John Burroughs Putting up a Bluebird House at Riverby, 1902

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details